Established in 1986 by Eliav and the Agency, and situated near the Egyptian border, 70 km. northwest of Beer Sheva, the community offers an extraordinary education in a unique setting for young people from Israel and abroad.
Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, family and friends of Eliav, students and alumni, attended the festive event. Also on hand were regional officials, among them MK Amir Peretz, heads of the Ramat Negev Regional Council, the Jewish National Fund, along with noted writer Eli Amir, and the Chairperson of Land of Israel Organization in Memory of Lova, Ofir Pines.
Center Director David Palmach noted that Nitzana, which is nestled among agricultural settlements and archaeological ruins from hundreds of years ago, runs educational activities for thousands of teenagers and young adults from all over Israel and across the world. The community is run in an ecologically sustainable fashion and amongst the many varied activities, the community runs short ecological seminars for Israeli teens.
Various long term programs are also run at ‘Nitzana’ including: the “Derech Eretz” pre-army academy; Ulpanim (Hebrew training) for olim (new immigrants); the Masa Israel program Desert Sports Challenge; and the ‘Tikun Olam’ boarding school for young Eritrean refugees who are in Israel without their parents and who were previously in detention.
Nitzana is an educational community providing activities that impart Zionist values, and teaches science and technology subjects as tools for personal and regional development. These activities include topics such as: the Bible heritage and Israel’s war heritage; ecology and protection of the environment; alternative "clean" energy; technological solutions to problems of desert life; advancing applied science and research in the desert; information technology and its effects on processes of gathering, organizing and disseminating knowledge. The overall approach emphasizes tolerance among sectors and towards minority groups.
The village is active during the entire year, and offers a variety of programs to participants from Israel and from abroad. Programs range from one-week Negev Seminars for Israeli high school students, to year-long Selah and Ulpan courses for olim. At any one time, 450 youth participate in short-term Negev Seminars and long-term Selah and ulpan programs.
Eliav, who was a senior member of the Labor movement and passed away in May 2010, served as a deputy minister in several governments. In 1988 he was awarded the Israel Prize for his unique contribution to Israeli society and the State of Israel. In 2003 he was awarded the Ben Gurion Prize for a life of achievement in absorbing new immigrants and developing the Negev.